One after the other they are released. And no, we’re not talking about players. We are referring to the women’s football strategies released by football’s top governing bodies.
First, it was FIFA that outlined the organization’s plan to grow women’s football on a global level in October 2018. A few months later, UEFA released its own vision for the game at the continent level And most recently, Concacaf, released its own strategy for the region.
Strategies and plans to grow the game at all levels are expected from the world’s governing bodies. Surprisingly, FIFA’s latest plan is actually it’s first dedicated to women’s football. The one produced by UEFA is also a first. Concacaf’s strategy doesn’t claim to be an organization first , however ,in 2018 it set up a dedicated women’s football department to be led by former Canada International, Karina Leblanc.
A key element of strategies is the time frame. FIFA’s plan has no clear deadline for review and benchmark but within the document, the milestone years mentioned are 2022 and 2026.
UEFA’s strategy is set for 2019-2024 in order to sit in line with its Together for the Future of Football wider strategy for the same period. Lastly, Concacaf’s plan is set to blend into the Concacaf 2030 Vision.
So what does each plan actually aim to achieve? the following table will help to understand better:
The overlap among the different plans is evident. Essentially, all want to achieve the same results: more players, more structure, increased awareness and and eventually result in an increase in revenues to support the whole cycle over and over again.
Ultimately, these plans devise a plan of action at the member/domestic association level. From there, it is down to each association to work with the local leagues, regional federation and clubs under their authority.
Although these plans look towards the future we are already seeing some changes. UEFA has unbundled commercial rights for women’s competitions and immediately brands such as Nike and VISA bought into the opportunity.
A digital impact as a result of an effort to increase awareness is also bearing its fruits. Boosted by the FIFA Women’s World Cup the amount of content generated showcasing in-game actions, players stories and personalities and branded content are at a level it has never been.
Apart from the three governing bodies mentioned above, there is another organization that operates in the background, doing work at club level but also liaising with UEFA etc. that is, the ECA-European Club Association.
It is driving action, education and measurement of progress together with women’s teams. The organization has a dedicated division for women’s club football matters and hosts forums regularly.
Hopefully, as the game sees more investment and professionalism,it will be interesting to follow the shifts in power in the women’s game amongst the different stakeholders.
Currently, most of the actions are driven by federations and confederations whereas in the men’s game it is clubs who hold the power and dictate changes in the landscape.
Will we eventually reach a stage where the leading women’s clubs have a strong enough say to drive change in a way they see fit for the future of the game? For now, any effort to drive change is welcome.